Trade Alert

They shall not IPAFFS! HMRC and DEFRA offer tips on using the system

HMRC and DEFRA have been working with issues with clearing food items and products of animal origin (POAO) for entry into the UK from Europe. They published some of the answers on the web site of the British International Freight Association.

The itemised glitches raise questions about the forethought of the system’s developers.

One query asks: What if I get an error message that says "no licence required"?

Answer: Complete your pre-notification but leave box 44 blank in your customs declaration.

When Developers leave the users to work out the answer they describe their system as ‘intuitive’. But how many of us would think to leave a whole box unaddressed? Experience tells us that no online form tolerates a vacuum.

Another user got stuck because the system demands a Phytosanitary certificate that isn’t a legal requirement until July 1st. The advice?

“Simply upload a blank Phytosanitary certificate” is the answer. Simply? What is the likelihood that anyone would guess what to do in those circumstances? Wouldn’t it be better if HMRC told the developer to do a bit more work? Why not edit the system and stop demanding a form that isn’t necessary? Isn’t it obvious that this will cause confusion? 

Why do the developers of this system think it’s OK to assume users like having to work out what’s missing? Filing details about a POAO is probably challenging enough without having to solve a series of brain teasers. 

The next exchange exemplifies how incomplete the systems appear to be: 

“Question: When will CHIEF start recognising IPAFFS codes for notifications? Can we get an email sent out? Till then, I submit pre-notifications as I don’t see any benefit. It is causing double work with the upload to CHIEF.”

“Answer: We are pleased to advise that this issue has now been resolved.”

Shouldn’t these issues have been resolved before the system was launched?

Traders are having to work around the special needs of the developer of the CHIEF system, when a ‘civil service’ ought to be the other way around.

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